But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.
Where is my trust this day?
It must remain in You, O God, or I am lost.
I know what You have done in my life.
I know what You can do for any who seek after You.
I pray for all those who do not know You, who are facing each and everyday in their own strength. What a tragedy! I pray that You would surround them with those who do know You. I pray that they would be inundated with messages of Your love so that they cannot ignore the fact that You love them, that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ to die on a cross for their sin, that they might have eternal life with You. I pray that they would choose life, a life lived for Christ.
I pray for all those who serve You. I pray that they will keep their eyes on You and not give in to the pressures of this day. I pray that they will remain steadfast in their faith and trust that no matter what happens You have them safe in Your hands.
I thank You Lord, for this new day, for another day to serve You.
This Fourth of July weekend has been like no other.
I hear a lot of complaints from those wanting more restrictions to those wanting less restrictions. But let’s stop the bickering and think of all those who have lived through much worse and survived.
There are those who came to this country fleeing oppression, seeking a chance for a better life. They came from every nation in the world, some leaving everything dear to them behind in their quest for a better life.
There are those who served in the military who came home, some with visible wounds and others with wounded spirits.
There are those who stayed at home sacrificing for the ones in battle by using ration cards, growing victory gardens, buying war bonds, and doing without.
They worked together to get through the tough times. That is different in this time of crisis. We are not working together. This must change if we are to come through this with our nation intact.
I give you Psalm 37. The Triumph of the Man of Faith
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.
For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.
The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming.
The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation.
Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.
For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore.
For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.
The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him.
The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.
Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree.
Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.
But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
Three times we are told FRET NOT. Do you believe that God is who He says that He is? Do you believe that God can do what He says that He can do? Our fretting has no place if we are followers of Jesus Christ.
Instead of fretting we are told to trust in the Lord, to delight in the Lord, to commit our way unto the Lord, to rest in the Lord, and to wait patiently for the Lord. In other words stay close to God. Read His Word. Be diligent in prayer. Talk to God and listen for what He has to say to you.
However, we are not to sit idle while waiting for God to move. We are to “do good” – be active in your faith. God will give you opportunities every day to be a blessing to someone else.
We are to “cease from anger – that doesn’t mean accepting bad behavior. Pray for those who have hurt you. Ask God to give you the wisdom to see why they act the way they do.
We are to “forsake wrath” – give up your right to retaliate. Let the hurting stop with you.
These are wise words needed for the times we live in. We cannot change our circumstances by worry, or by anger, or by wrath.
Again I ask you:
Do you believe God is who He says that He is?
Do you believe God can do what He says that He can do?
We must live each day as disciples of Jesus Christ,
Do you know what this day signifies? It is the fortieth day of the Easter season, Ascension Day in the christian church. Today we remember that Jesus died on the cross but that He did not remain in the grave. The third day he rose and on this day He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. We read of the account in the Gospel of Luke, chapter twenty-four, verses forty-four through fifty-three.
And He said unto them,
These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them , Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.
Oswald Chambers writes in his devotional My Utmost For His Highest:
His cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any man, and by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity.
On the Mount of Ascension the Transfiguration is completed. If Jesus had gone to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone; He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the Mount to identify Himself with fallen humanity.
The Ascension if the consummation of the Transfiguration.Our Lord does now go back into His primal glory; but He does not go back simply as Son of God; He goes back to God as Son of Man as well as Son of God. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man.
Jesus opened the door for all who desire a relationship with God. He provided the bridge that spanned the gulf created by sin. This day is important to the community of faith. There are no Hallmark Cards to mark the day, no public celebrations, no gifts to buy or special meal to prepare, only your heart, mind, and soul focused on what God has done to bring us back to Himself.
Are you feeling under pressure these days? As this crisis goes on the pressure mounts because we are disconnected from the familiar. Some are unable to work because their work is deemed “nonessential” while others are stretched to the breaking point because they have no relief. We think of those who are working in the medical field but this pandemic has made working in a grocery store hazardous. This is true for others as well.
Uncertainty raises our stress level. We are living in uncertain times. When will everyone return to work? When will the schools reopen? When will we be able to take a trip, visit family, go out without a mask, shake a hand, give a hug? When will we be able to gather together to worship as we choose?
We are blessed with the technology that allows us to visit over the computer, purchase items for delivery, even have contact with our doctor. These things are all helpful. However, over an extended period of time they are not a substitute for personal contact. We need human touch. We need to see the smiles that a mask hides. So we find ourselves under pressure.
The devotional reading from Streams In The Desert for yesterday was very timely. Reminding me that it takes pressure for us to grow as Christians.
Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intently it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure byfoes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
Grapes can’t become wine unless they are squeezed. Dough is kneaded and baked to become bread. As followers of Christ we are called to be “broken bread and poured out wine.” We will face pressure but Jesus gives us His word in John 16: 33.
LORD, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.
Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return ye children of men.
For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Thoucarriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut sown, and withereth.
For we are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled.
Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.
For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Who knoweth the power of Thineanger? even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants.
O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.
My Bible titles this psalm “God Man’s Refuge In All Ages.” We all need to be reminded of this in these troubled times. God is our refuge and God is our strength. He is with us in this situation. Let us not take our eyes off Him.
Today I finish my sixty-ninth year on this earth and begin the journey through the seventieth year. I have been thinking of the words in the tenth verse: The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.
So as I approach this birthday I thought of all God has blessed me with. I thought of what I have done with those blessings. I thought also of wasted opportunities; things I should have done and did not; things I should not have done and did anyway. I thought of words I neglected to say and words I should have let remain unspoken. I thought of time wasted on things that really did not matter while I neglected the tasks God had for me to do.
I am so glad that God is patient with me – always!
I will spend every day He leaves me here on this earth serving Him. At this moment I have no idea what that will look like since God has uprooted me once again. But that is a story for another post.
I am thankful this day for sixty-nine years, for blessings beyond measure, and for His mercy and His grace. Thank You, God.
LORD, I may not understand but I trust YOU. I trust in YOUR plan.
I will keep my eyes on YOU and trust You to work out the details.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14
Tonight we light the center candle, the Christ Candle.
We light this candle as a symbol of God’s mercy and grace.
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
In 2005 a mother and daughter wrote a book in rhyme about an elf who watches over the house and reports back to the north pole on who is naughty and who is nice. The Elf on the Shelf mania took off. There are all sorts of little scenes posted on social media featuring this little elf. It amazes me the time and effort people put into this. While the little fellow seems to have amassed a dedicated following there is some controversy. Some just believe it is a marketing strategy designed to get you to spend your money. Others believe it is harmful for parents to use the elf to make their children behave. And still others believe that it indoctrinates the children to accept surveillance. If it is permissible for the elf to spy on you then it should be no problem if your government does it.
I believe that this craze is like any other, it depends on what you do with it. But I do have to wonder about a culture that spends so much time and effort on maintaining a false narrative, be it the elf or the jolly man in the red suit, when we have the greatest story ever told.
On this very special night we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. The world needs to hear of the events that took place over two thousand years ago. Not only of His birth, but also the life He lived on this earth, the teaching, the preaching, the miracles He performed, the betrayal, the death on the cross, the resurrection from the tomb. It is the greatest story ever told.
What would this world be like if we spent as much time and effort telling the world of God’s plan of salvation . How Jesus paid the debt for our sin so that restoration of the relationship that was broken in the garden of Eden is made possible through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Jesus died that we might have life.
The price has been paid.
As the song says:
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
The kingdom of love and light.
So as we light the final candle on the Advent Wreath – the Christ Candle – let us purpose in our hearts to share the good news with those who are still walking in darkness.
We light this candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace.
May the visitation of Your Holy Spirit, O God, make us ready for the coming of Jesus, our hope and joy.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
Forunto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
and the governmentshall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David,
and upon his kingdom,
to order it,
and to establish it with judgment
and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
All around us there is turmoil. The twenty-four hour news cycle never ceases to inform us of all the trouble in the world. They sprinkle in a few “feel good” human interest stories here and there but for the most part the news is not positive nor uplifting. I have learned to take frequent breaks from the media coverage and that includes social media. For if you listen long enough you will suffer anxiety and stress. There will be no peace.
However, when you turn off the television, the computer, the phone and any other device you might have access to you can decompress.
Keep a regular quiet time, a time apart with God. Read His Word. Meditate on the scriptures. Talk with Him about your day. Listen to hear what He has to tell you. I find that my day goes much better when I take the time early in the morning before I begin my daily schedule.
If you make your time with the Lord a priority you will find the peace that passes all understanding. All around you may be chaos but you can remain anchored in the Lord.
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father’s house are many mansions:
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again, and receive you unto myself;
that where I am, there ye may be also.
These words from the gospel of John were spoken as Jesus encouraged his disciples on the night of his betrayal. In spite of what was about to take place Jesus wanted to assure them of his presence always. I find great comfort in his words in verse 27 of that chapter:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
As we light the candle of Peace let us remember the Source of our Peace!
We awoke to a snow covered landscape this morning. This required the winter apparel for morning chores: two pair of socks, boots, insulated overalls, scarf, hat and gloves to brave the 19 degree weather. But I didn’t mind the cold or the hassle getting ready because the dogs love the snow. Since the advent candle this week was the candle of joy it seemed very appropriate. Watching them romp in the fluffy white stuff brought me joy because they seemed so full of joy themselves.
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Joy.
May the joyful promise of your presence,
O God, make us rejoice in our hope of salvation.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10
On this third Sunday of Advent I would like to share with you a devotional reading from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
My Joy . . . Your Joy
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:11
What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. “I delight to do Thy will.” Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?
The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. The first thing that will hinder this joy is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God’s word. Before we know where we are, we are caught up in the shows of things. All that God has done for us is the mere threshold; He wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim Who Jesus is.
Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a center for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.
I agree with Mr. Chambers, our task is to be witnesses, to proclaim Christ to the world. How many people have you told about Jesus during these first three weeks of Advent?
There our people all around us who hunger for true joy and they are not finding it because they are looking in the wrong places. Joy isn’t found in the Christmas that is celebrated in most places because Christ is not to be found there. We live in a culture that is becoming openly hostile to Jesus but we must be bold in our proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ or so many will be lost to eternal damnation.
We light this candle as a symbol of Christ the Way.
May the Word sent from God through the prophets lead us to the way of salvation.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of council and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
On this the second Sunday of Advent we remember that Jesus is the only way to restore our broken relationship with God. When Jesus spoke with his disciples in the upper room he said to them:
I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
The world will tell you there are many paths to God, but God’s Word – the Holy Bible – makes it plain. There is only one way and that way is Jesus Christ. He left his home in heaven to dwell among us here on earth. He died a cruel death, our death, in order that we might have eternal life with God in heaven.
As Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest,
There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationshipto a personal Redeemer and Lord.
Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life.
One individual life may be of priceless value to God‘s purposes, and yours may be that life.